The role concrete roof tiles play in supporting ecological construction

As the government’s Future Homes Standard continues to encourage construction professionals to adopt a more sustainable approach to the building materials they specify and the methods they utilise, Chris Piper, Sales Director for Housing Developers at Ibstock PLC, which includes the market leading Forticrete brand, shares his thoughts on the role concrete roof tiles play in supporting a more ecological, yet efficient, approach to construction.

Aiming to achieve an uplift in the thermal performance and overall sustainability of new build properties, the Future Homes Standard highlights the responsibility and opportunities that industry professionals have to create a new generation of residential dwellings that deliver the highest standards in energy efficiency.

When specifying sustainable building materials for residential dwellings, professionals must first consider the environmental credentials of the products themselves. However, the proficiency of the installation method and ongoing maintenance requirements must also be addressed, to ensure the long term performance of the property. 

With regard to roofing products in particular, specifiers should choose roof tiles that have a reduced impact on the environment through their material composition. This can be achieved by specifying lightweight and durable alternatives to natural slate roof tiles, such as concrete. 

As the amount of quarrier aggregate used is significantly reduced when compared with natural slate, the impact on the surrounding landscape is effectively minimised, whilst the manufacturing methods for concrete tiles also requires less energy throughout the production process.

The result is a roofing tile that has much lower embodied carbon, but does not compromise on the quality, aesthetic or performance benefits associated with other materials.

To support specifiers in taking the principles outlined within the Future Homes Standard one step further, Forticrete has substantially reduced the embodied carbon within its popular Gemini® concrete roof tiles by using Lafarge Cement’s SustainaCem. The result is the creation of a more durable and environmentally friendly tile that delivers superior longevity and minimises product waste.

Due to Gemini’s® innovative ‘double cambered’ design, the interlocking roof tile also require fewer tiles to cover the same area, when compared to a conventional double lapped plain tile. 

This further reduces the environmental impact of a new build development, whilst simultaneously minimising overall build costs, as the speed of installation is significantly increased, whilst the volume of materials required is subsequently decreased. 

The need for building products that accelerate the rate of building is another leading consideration that specifiers are addressing in relation to the construction of new build properties, as 2020 saw unprecedented disruptions to the industry. 

This was due to lockdown causing a significant backlog in the construction of new developments, which was swiftly followed by a rapid increase in demand caused by the extension of the Stamp Duty holiday and the confirmation of the Affordable Homes Programme.

To support an amplified rate of building, without compromising on the sustainable credentials of the property, large format concrete roof tiles are rapidly growing in popularity. The Forticrete SL8 large format roof tile delivers superior coverage benefits when compared with traditional large format roof tiles,  with a 20% reduction in the number of tiles handled and laid, significantly increasing the efficiency of installation.  

However, aesthetics and durability also remain leading considerations throughout the initial design and specification stages, as specifiers are increasingly searching for new roofing materials that offer an enhanced or unique visual appeal, without compromising on quality and energy performance.  

This includes large format concrete roof tiles that feature a thin leading edge, to not only improve building processes and reduce the quantity of building materials required, but provide enhanced visual effect that supports the creation of unique yet cohesive properties across an entire development. Again, the Forticrete SL8 has considered this newly attractive feature, offering both large format and thin leading edge in a single package. 

As technology continues to advance, the ability to create a tile that replicates a natural aesthetic at a lower cost, combined with enhanced installation efficiencies, is paving the way for a new generation of concrete roof tiles that reflect the principles outlined within the Future Homes Standard, whilst helping to meet the rise in demand for new build properties.